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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:49 pm 
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Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
UPBooMatt wrote:
Leo, you are still around! I've read several threads you have talked about your aureosulcata in, but I can't seem to recall if you have any other species? If so, could I trouble you for a short list of your hardiness experiences, and heights, as compared to your Y.G.


Hi Matt
Yep, still around. Like many others, my hobby, fascination with bamboo has evolved over time. I got over the ''hoarder'' instinct in terms of trying to cram as many species as possible in a little 50 x 80 foot city lot. My obsessions with orchids and bonsai have been consuming most of my ''blogging time''. Bamboo has been largely relegated to keeping what I have left without trying to get more.

I've learned a fair amount about what survives in zone 5b, between Chicago and Milwaukee. I live in Zion IL, roughly where the Illinois-Wisc border drops into Lake Michigan, about 3 miles south of the border.

So what do I still have? I planted my first bamboo in 1982,
Phyllostachys aureosulcata - the normal form. - This has thrived, as I said above. Average 12 to 18 feet culms. I get complete top kill, maybe 2 out of 5, or so winters. New shoots from rhizomes usually meet average size, 12 to 18 feet tall. Culm diameter of the tallest is just barely one inch in diameter. All in all a great bamboo, my planting is 32 feet long by 30 inches wide, usually a couple hundred culms. The rhizomes have been reliably hardy right through -25 F (roughly -32 C). Once the planting reached about 15 years old, the soil bed was getting really dense, with old woody rhizomes that were no longer producing shoots. Hardly any room for new to come up. As a result I began removing about a third (a 10 foot section) of the grove at a time. Just had it dug out, replaced the removed soil with fresh ''dirt'', composted manure and purchased topsoil. Immediately the remaining sections of the bed recolonized the removed portion, initially with short fresh culms, but by 3rd summer there was no difference in height of culms in the "renewed" portion. Then I followed up with doing the next segment. So now almost 35 years later the full bed has been removed and regenerated at least once. Unfortunately age has caught up with me, the next round will have to be hired help removing the rhizomes. But when I started, I never thought I'd be in one place long enough to think about having to rejuvenate a grove.

My tastes have changed, from wanting one of each I really only want one of each major ''color type''. From more than 10 feet away, Phyllo aureosulcata visually is basically a plain green bamboo, the yellow groove is pretty dull. I have found Phyllo atrovaginata is a much more handsome ''plain green'' bamboo. Its culms are slightly larger diameter for its height, which gives better visual impact. My planting of Phyllo atrovaginata is fairly young, because I keep having to move it. I wish the ''good spot'' that the aureosulcata is in was vacant. Oh well. I'll find a spot. Seems like Phyllo atrovaginata will mature out in my climate at about 12 to 15 feet, pretty similar to aureosulcata. I imagine the diameter will be about 1 inch in diameter. And the new shoots are the absolute best tasting, sweetest, of all the Phyllostachys I have eaten. Worth planting a larger bed of so that you can dine on it more than just a handful of shoots a year.

Phyllo aureosulcata 'Harbin Inversa' - I planted this one maybe 1995. Confined to a rectangular recycling bin plunged into the ground with only a rim above ground. 'Harbin Inversa' seems every bit as vigorous as the normal type, is definitely equally hardy, and if I had allotted it a larger bed, would likely reach nearly the same size.

I'll continue this thread tomorrow, need to walk away from the laptop right now. Couldn't figure out how to find a ''save as draft'', so rather than retype the above I'll do this in parts.
Leo


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:41 pm 
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Wow, thanks for all the excellent info Leo. You definitely have some of the best, long term, cold zone, bamboo growing info out there.

Make sure to let me know when you decide that work needs to be done on your Aureosulcata grove. If I can swing the time away and the trip, I'd love to help, in exchange for a nice "hardiness proven" division of course. Even the chance to see a mature zone 5 grove would be useful information for me in planning my bamboo future...lol

Looking forward to whatever else you have to add.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:31 pm 
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Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
continued......
Phyllo aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis' - this is my favorite color variety of Yellow Groove bamboo. The bright golden yellow culms can be seen from quite a distance. As a landscape accent or focal point, it is a good one. Seems every bit as hardy as the normal wild type. Again I kept this in a container plunged into the ground so I did not get a good feel as to whether it will get as large as the nominal type, but I think it will in my climate. Sadly the white pine adjacent to this planting shaded it out in the last couple years. I was coerced into selling a division two years ago and the main clump never recovered. So I actually have to go out and buy another division. I will site it in a better location.

Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis' - I never put any in the ground, I like it alot, I did plant some at my sister's farm in Southern IL, zone 6b and it is the same height as rubromarginata planted at the same time. Visually up close the bold yellow with green stripes is quite stunning, very beautiful. At a distance of 20 - 30 feet or so it begins to look more yellow-green, rather than the stripe pattern or bold yellow. Impact is not as 'yellow' as 'Aureocaulis'. From divisions in containers I believe it is every bit as hardy as the normal form.

I have tried other Phyllostachys, rubromarginata is not hardy enough for zone 5b. A division I planted at my sister's place in zone 6b is now over 24 feet tall, and still sizing up larger each year. (Carbondale-Murphysboro, IL area).
Phyllostachys nigra - is not quite hardy enough to persist more than one or two winters. Even with deep mulch and deep snow. Phyllo nigra 'Mejiro' and 'Shindake' seem a touch more hardy than the 'Hale' or ordinary black, but the difference is small. All varieties seem to do well at my sister's place in zone 6b, right on the edge of 7a. (down the hill is 7a, she is on ''the ridge''). Never tried 'Henon', so don't know. Phyllo nigra shoots are rather bitter compared to Phyllo atrovaginata. Benefit from changing water when boiling.

Phyllo propinqua 'Beijing' did not survive for me, but I think that was due to poor site selection rather than an issue of hardiness. I'm pretty sure it is cold hardy in 5b. I don't have room to try again.

Phyllo parvifolia - another species that my site selection was not ideal. The way it died leads me to believe that it might not be hardy in zone 5b, maybe yes in 6a, but not 5b. Don't plant it unless you have a space larger than 10 feet by 30 feet, or larger. It is a giant, like moso, and needs to have room to size up.

Phyllostachys nuda - this is quite hardy, and a lovely bamboo that should be planted more. Foliage has a slight blue-ish cast and leaves curl a little compared to atrovaginata and aureosulcata. A subtle color change as a landscape planting. However, down side is that P. nuda seems to be easily damaged by winter wind. I actually had a lot of top kill for culms in exposed locations, yet culms protected from wind seemed fine. Brad, when he was in his valley in Indiana had a good spot for nuda. So I think nuda should be planted in sheltered locations, forest edge, or forest understory, or in courtyards or other shelter locations. Temperature doesn't seem to be the issue, but winter wind definitely is. My planting perished over time. Lasted about 10 years but it was too exposed, dug and sold the last to someone who had a courtyard location in Milwaukee WI area, and now she is having trouble keeping it from taking over everything.

I never tried Phyllo bissetii, for no reason other than I already felt I had my ''plain green'' bamboo needs covered. The Chicago Botanic Garden has several plantings of this bamboo well over 10 years old, and theirs seems to come through the winters just fine. Less leaf damage than aureosulcata in winter. Definitely a hardy bamboo. The CBG is about 2 miles further west of Lake Michigan than my home, so they have less winter moderation from ''Lake effect'' than I do. So Phyllo bissetii is definitely my top recommendation for winter hardiness that I have witnessed personally.

That is pretty much my full report for tall shrub, or low timber bamboos in zone 5b. On to other genera in my next post


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:00 pm 
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Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
One Phyllostachys I had forgotten to mention. Phyllostachys viridis 'Robert Young', this is an incredibly beautiful bamboo. I think it is underappreciated. It should be planted more often. It is NOT WINTER HARDY in zone 5b. In zone 6b it is extremely hardy and quite beautiful. In 6b it only top killed twice in 15 years, and sized up fairly quickly afterwards. Visual impact is that of bright gold culms from 50 foot distance. As you get close the randon green striped become quite nice. The culms are relatively large diameter for its height. In zone 6b it never exceeded 25 feet, but I understand in warmer climates it can get to 50 feet, a true timber bamboo. We have had 2 inch diameter on 20 foot culms. The color remains after drying. Because it is slightly smaller at maturity I think this is a better behaved, more manageable bamboo than Phyllo vivax 'aureocaulis' or 'Huangwenzhu Inversa', though this is my opinion. I have seen various vivax plantings in my travels, and at least to my eye, viridis 'Robert Young' is a visually more impactful bamboo. Viridis 'Robert Young' does not shoot until the soil is warm in spring, and needs a longer summer to mature culms to achieve winter hardiness in autumn. So it will fail to thrive north of zone 6b, so I would not try to plant it as far north as Saint Louis. Or maybe Saint Louis would be the north limit. But it is a good, often neglected bamboo.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:16 pm 
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Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
Groundcover bamboos in zone 5b.
Pleioblastus viridistriatus - Greenstripe bamboo. This one is just lovely. In 5b it needs to be planted in the ground in spring, so it has all summer to put rhizomes deep enough to survive a bad winter. I get 100% top kill every winter, but new shoots from the rhizomes every spring. My planting is over 35 years old, planted the year after I planted my Phyllo aureosulcata. Should you have some culms survive the winter, mow them off as the leaves will look shabby compared to the new that will come. Average 24 inches tall, some years it gets to 36 inches tall if we have a lot of rain in spring. In very very cold winters, fewer rhizomes will return in spring, but after most winters the bed is quite dense in spring. A -17 F (-26 C) winter is not problem. I stopped mulching this bed by the 3rd year after it was planted. The soft texture of the leaves is delightful.

Sasaella masamuneana albostriata - a different color and texture than the above. For this species, topkill is not as total, often maybe 25 to 50% of the & culms leaves survive, with varying damage. If damage is visible from a distance you may want to mow in spring just before or as shoots start to get a clean, fresh look. This tends to be a little taller, averaging 30 to 36 inches, with occasional culms to 48 inches. This is an elegant bamboo, but because more survives winters than viridistriatus, it takes more spring work to clean up nice for the summer. Sasaella racemosa is fully winter hardy in zone 5b also, comes up plain green. I eventually removed the planting because it looked too much like an un-mowed patch of grass.

Pleioblastus fortunei - planted some at a friend's in Milwaukee, near enough to ''the Lake'' to be zone 5b. This is a brighter white & medium green variegation than the blue-green & yellow of viridistriatus. Seems very similar in hardiness, meaning nearly complete top kill every winter, but good survival from the rhizomes. Another beautiful groundcover. Shorter than viridistriatus. Well worth planting.

For the above ground covers, you should put in barriers. My sister did not with her viridistriatus, and there are long ''lines'' of single culms of viridistriatus marching for 50 feet in any direction from the original planting. If you have a barrier, the bamboo rhizomes will circle back and fill in the space. A full space has better visual impact.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:33 pm 
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Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
chapter 4 of Leo's bamboo book.

Indocalamus latifolius - Here is a bamboo you would not think would do well in zone 5b. I have a small clump that has remained a small clump, that has hung in there for 20 years. Bought it from David in Maryland quite a long time ago. Big leaf bamboo. I planted it into my bed of Pleioblastus viridistriatus. It is always a bit taller than the variegated one, and its big, wide fat leaves are a stand out all winter. Half this bed gets some winter sun, half is in shade. This bamboo never survives if the culms came up in the ''winter sun'' section. The culms in the shade survives often with zero damage, even through -17F. Leaves remain evergreen through -17 F, no burnt edges, no blotching. There were burnt edges and blotched burn patches the year we had -25 F, but that was in the late 1980's, I doubt we will ever see that cold again. A culm MUST have leaves survive for the culm to survive. If a planting looses all the culms to winter top kill, the planting will likely die. They do not shoot at the same time as the Phyllostachys, often doing a late summer flush of new culms. So if you want texture, the big leaves of Indocalamus latifolius are choice. Mine has never exceeded 54 inches in height. Zone 5b is probably quite a big colder than its preference, but it seems okay. I also planted Indocalamus latifolius 'Hopei', can't see any difference in leaf or culm markings, but I am not a trained bamboo taxonomy guy. It seems equally hardy, leaves coming through winter with no blemishes if in the shade. Sunburnt leaves if they get any sun in winter. Best for the Indocalamus would be a location with maybe 50% summer sun and zero winter sun. Not an easy site to find.

I did have Sasa nagimontana in a container for a couple years, and later it was planted in the ground near Kenosha Wisconsin. I lost tract of it, but it did pull through 2 Wisconsin winters. Part sun seems right for summer, shade or buried in mulch for winter. It is quite short, no more than 24 inches tall.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:07 pm 
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Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
chapter 5
The Fargesia
Everyone North of Saint Louis is infatuated with Fargesia as a winter hardy bamboo. Over the 37 years or so that I have been growing bamboo I have always had one or another of the Fargesia. I had a Fargesia nitida planted in a 3 gallon bucket plunged in the ground that persisted for over 20 years, until it flowered and died, it never became vigorous, it always looked wispy. Planted in the ground Fargesia clumps would usually slowly decline and perish. Sun, especially winter sun, was bad. Shade they never grew well. From a distance the visual impact was near zero, especially F. nitida with its dark colored culms, it would just ''disappear'' as you stepped away from it. Fargesia were always a disappointment.

Then hanging out at a friend's house in Milwaukee I realized he had huge clumps of Fargesia. Fargesia murielae nearly 8 feet tall, Fargesia nitida nearly 10 feet tall. Both he an I have the same source of municipal water, Lake Michigan. We both have similar soils, limestone derived glacial loess and clay soils. What the hell was he doing different? I asked. Then I dug a division of murielae for myself and saw the reality. His planting was on a hill, and essentially he used landscape timbers to berm up a bed that was at least 3 feet deep at its deepest, maybe 6 inches deep at its shallowest. Into this bed he filled it with bark chips, peat moss, autumn leaves and grass clippings. Every year more bark chips, occasionally more peat moss and lawn clippings. The soil was all organic, and soft. I could stab my flat hand into the compost to my wrist with little or no resistance. Deep, naturally acidic compost. The Fargesias loved it, as did his Rhododendrons. Both are difficult in limestone derived soils.

I brought home my division of F. murielae in a compost mix and it is doing well. My miserably small F murielae division that was planted in the ground I divided and put part in a different pot with the deep all organic composted bark. It doubled in size in 2 summers.

Moral of the story, if your Fargesia are a disappointment, as mine were, the problem is your soil. Fargesia need a deep, mildly acidic media, high in organic content, composted bark & peat moss blend seems to work well.

SO I will stop bad mouthing Fargesia, and try to get mine to size up, so I have something new to brag about.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:21 pm 
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Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
UPBooMatt wrote:
Wow, thanks for all the excellent info Leo. You definitely have some of the best, long term, cold zone, bamboo growing info out there.

Make sure to let me know when you decide that work needs to be done on your Aureosulcata grove. If I can swing the time away and the trip, I'd love to help, in exchange for a nice "hardiness proven" division of course. Even the chance to see a mature zone 5 grove would be useful information for me in planning my bamboo future...lol

Looking forward to whatever else you have to add.


Well this concludes my saga of 37 years of trying many different bamboos. I did not spend much time on my indoors for winter, outdoors for summer bamboos. Some work better than others. Chusquesia in general are not good for midwest indoors in winter, outdoors in summer bamboo, I have many failed attempts. Chimonobambusa marmorata has some potential as a ''dwarfish black bamboo'' for container gardening. It does not tolerate low humidity well in winter, not as well as black bamboo. Phyllo nigra and Phyllo nigra 'Mejiro'' are my current indoors for winter outdoors for summer bamboos. They are a bit too robust for to be ideal container bamboos, but they get by. Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr' is another just a bit too robust for container gardening. The dwarf varieties of Bambusa multiplex, like 'Fernleaf stripe stem' are good container plants.

If anyone wants to visit, just send me a PM through bamboo.web and I'll send you my number. I actually could use some help now and then. Get a hold of me during an ideal time to transplant aureosulcata and you can have as much of the normal green as you can dig.

I've enjoyed this group over the years
Leo


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:47 pm 
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Wow leo thanks for all the info! I wonder if a big styrofoam overwintering cone over the indocalamus would help if it's in a spot that gets winter sun. It's probably not big enough for a fully grown plant but i imagine you could bend some culms down and fit it over smaller, less mature plants.

how deep would you recommend making the barriers for the ground cover species?

To answer the original topic, i think the first one I had was aureosulcata "harbin". I still have it in a pot. It's about as small now as it ever has been (pot froze last fall), but it's still alive. Probably 6' tall is the biggest I ever got it in a pot.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:53 pm 
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Rufledt wrote:
Wow leo thanks for all the info! I wonder if a big styrofoam overwintering cone over the indocalamus would help if it's in a spot that gets winter sun. It's probably not big enough for a fully grown plant but i imagine you could bend some culms down and fit it over smaller, less mature plants.

how deep would you recommend making the barriers for the ground cover species?

To answer the original topic, i think the first one I had was aureosulcata "harbin". I still have it in a pot. It's about as small now as it ever has been (pot froze last fall), but it's still alive. Probably 6' tall is the biggest I ever got it in a pot.



Barriers

For barriers inserted into the ground, if the ground is soft, 36 inches minimum. Even at 36 inches, once every couple years one will dive below the barrier and escape. But the vast majority will be confined. If your soil goes to ''hardpan clay'' or to rock in less than 36 inches, you just need to get to the dense, impenetrable layer. A raised bed goes a long way to keeping the bamboo confined. Combine a raised bed with an in ground barrier and you will keep your bamboo confined. For all bamboo most rhizomes seem to be in the top 6 inches. Even groundcovers like Pleioblastus viridistriatus will have occasional rhizomes dive to the 3 foot depth. This is why this fairly tender groundcover survives in my brutal climate, there are always some rhizomes deep enough that they do not freeze out in a nasty year. So 36 inches seems about right to stop 99% of rhizomes.

Compacted gravel driveways are fairly good barriers. Compacted driveway plus occasional use of Roundup or other burn down herbicide is very close to 100%. Herbicides, depending on where used, usually require 3 or 4 applications per growing season to effect total kill of rhizomes. A one time application is very seldom enough.

Wide expanses of regularly mowed lawn are good barriers. This method is used at Kew Gardens, UK. At least a 50 foot in any direction of mowed lawn seems to work. If culms that come up out of bounds never get going because they get mowed, eventually the wandering rhizomes will die out.

Solid concrete foundations work well. If there are cracks in the concrete, you might find a culm waving it's leaves at you in your basement. Bamboo should never be planted near a block, or stone foundation. It will work its way through the mortar.

Be responsible when planting bamboo.

Containers plunged into the ground, can not have drainage holes around the edges. Drainage holes can only be in the dead center. so only culms going absolutely vertical could possibly escape. Most escaping rhizomes travel out and down, not vertically down. So if you are burying a round half a 55 gallon barrel, imagine the bottom is a bullseye target pattern, only put the drainage holes in the center of the bullseye. Then the contain will keep the bamboo confined and yet allow drainage.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:28 pm 
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That's interesting, thanks. I have hard clay soil after only a few inches, I think the builders scraped the topsoil off when they built the place. I wonder if I bury the barrier a couple feet down into the clay, then fill the bottom foot back up with clay if it would be extra secure. Then fill the top foot or more with good dirt to give the bamboo some good growing medium. It would have to dive through a foot of clay before it could reach the bottom of the barrier. I have clay to spare around here, every successful planting has required new dirt, mostly I just mound good soil on top of the clay. Perhaps that would motivate the ground cover runners to stuck to the top of the soul rather than dive.

As for first bamboo obtained, I think I was wrong about harbin. I think my first 2 (at same time) were japonica and bambusa multiple I got from a forum member. The japonica flowered and died along with the parent plant, the multiplex lasted years until a watering system I had died while I was away and it dried out.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 10:54 pm 
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Leo, thank you so much for all the fantastic info, and the time spent writing it. I've been super busy with work this week but I will take time to reread it this weekend.

I am curious though, could you elaborate a bit on "rubro not being hardy enough in 5b" always top killed? Or complete, flat out death? It's one I'm trying here (knowing full well any, or all, of mine could be killed in the wrong winter here) , so I'm wondering just how yours met it's demise....lol

Oh, and I've never been so terrified of a plant as I think I am now of my viridistriatus...it's got no barrier, and it's 2-3 feet from the house, with a cinder block foundation.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:22 pm 
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Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
UPBooMatt wrote:
Leo, thank you so much for all the fantastic info, and the time spent writing it. I've been super busy with work this week but I will take time to reread it this weekend.

I am curious though, could you elaborate a bit on "rubro not being hardy enough in 5b" always top killed? Or complete, flat out death? It's one I'm trying here (knowing full well any, or all, of mine could be killed in the wrong winter here) , so I'm wondering just how yours met it's demise....lol

Oh, and I've never been so terrified of a plant as I think I am now of my viridistriatus...it's got no barrier, and it's 2-3 feet from the house, with a cinder block foundation.



Hi Matt,
In my area, virtually every winter we get at least 5 nights of sub-zero weather, (colder than -17 C) even in relatively mild winters. Our common winter low is -10 F (-23 C), and in the last 10 years our coldest has been -17 F (-27 C), and the 1980's record cold was -25 F (-32 C). First frost tends to be October 15, ground tends to freeze Nov 15, last frost tends to be May 1. This means a winter can be 167 to 198 days long. Leaving a growing season of only 198 to 167 days. More on this less than 200 day growing season a paragraph or two down.

Rubromarginata - The years that I tried to get a clump established we had a series of colder than -10 F winters. And somewhat longer winters than ''average'', where soils did not warm up in spring until late. When my rubromarginata top killed 2 winters in a row, it would come back smaller and smaller. Initially planted 5 foot culms, followed next year by grassy, late to emerge, barely 2-3 foot culms, followed by a wisp or two of 1 foot sprigs of bamboo followed by death. Key is the few shoots to emerge, were quite late compared to other bamboos. The third winter in a row for top kill was sufficient to totally kill of the rhizome. This was the result for two separate attempts, separated by 7 or so years. The first round I was pretty good about applying 4 to 8 inches of mulch for winter, the second round I never got around to a mulch. Building codes require water lines to be buried below 48 inches, so that gives you an idea how deep the cold can penetrate our soils. I believe the rhizomes of rubromarginata are not as cold tolerant as aureosulcata. Mulching or burlap covers or styrofoam covers are useful the first few years. If a planting does not establish well enough that one could forego the winter cover, it is not hardy in your area. I'm now 63 with fairly aggressive arthritis. I can't do the physical labor of digging and or mulching and a lot of bending and lifting. If a bamboo can't make it without help after the 3rd winter, it isn't hardy.

Weak response after top kill suggests the dormant buds on the rhizome were killed. As you may know from digging at various times, the culms that sprout in spring come from buds that enlarge underground in autumn, but my guess is these enlarged, dominant buds are more sensitive to cold penetrating the soil. Buds that were fully dormant are not as sensitive, and these will sprout later than normal spring flush. So if you have a bamboo flush a month or more after it ''should'' have emerged in spring, chances are the soil got cold enough to kill all but the totally dormant back buds on the rhizomes.

A second issue with winter hardiness is length of growing season. Aureosulcata, nuda, & atrovaginata all shoot while soil temperatures are cool, maybe 50 - 60 F, so in my area, they come up after last frost, about the time maples are fully expanding their leaves. This gives them near a 120 - 170 day growing season, since they don't start until a couple weeks after last frost.

A zone 7 bamboo, like P. viridis 'Robert Young' won't start shooting until the soils are warmer, near or above 70 F, in my area this doesn't happen until middle of June. In my area, if we chill down by Oct 15 this means there may be less than 100 days to grow and mature culms for the next winter. This is not enough time for a bamboo like viridis 'Robert Young'. Culms that have not matured, are not as winter hardy. These culms will be more likely to top kill. Also this short season does not allow as much carbohydrate storage in the rhizomes. This leads to repeated weakening of the rhizomes, and back to back short seasons can lead to death.

When aureosulcata or atrovaginata have total top kill in my climate, the new culms are not much shorter than the previous season's culms. This suggests to me soil temperatures were not cold enough to kill apical buds on the rhizomes, the buds that did some enlargement in late autumn, in preparation for spring. Back to back winters of total top kill do shorten the height of new culms, but it is an incremental shortening, suggesting that freeze damage to the apical buds of the rhizomes was not the cause, but rather carbohydrate depletion. The previous year's shorter culms did not send as much carbohydrates to the rhizomes as the taller culms. Gradual carbohydrate exhaustion can kill off a planting, but for bamboos that are indeed hardy, the total top kill seldom happens more than 2 consecutive winters. One mild winter and everything sizes up again.

So I believe you can get a good estimate of hardiness by noting soil temperature that new culms first emerge at. If the culms come up in cool soils, early, then they have a better shot at getting a sufficient number of days of growing in before the next winter hits.

Matt, you are in the UP, an area famous for deep and early, deep snow cover. When you have 4 feet of snow on the ground, it is possible the ground doesn't freeze more than a few inches deep. Where you are going to have trouble is if you start having ''snow-less'' winters. Bare ground will freeze deep, the insulating value of the top 6 inches of dirt is not that great. Your local building codes can give you an idea how deep the ground can freeze. From that deep frost line to the surface will be a gradient where in a no snow year the surface 6 inches of soil will be the same bone chilling cold that the air temperature gets to.

So you have 3 issues, #1 cold air causing top kill. Cold, dry wind on a sunny midwinter day is the worst.
#2 cold penetrating down deep into your soils, potentially killing rhizomes, especially in little or no snow winters.
#3 short number of growing days from time new culms emerge.
You get hit with a triple whammy. There are not many bamboos that can put up with all 3 problems.

So I think rubromarginata, like 'Robert Young', nigra, moso, and any number of other zone 6b bamboos, simply does not have what it takes in terms of emerging early enough and maturing quick enough to make it as winter hardy in zone 5a, or 4. Even at my sister's place, which is warm side of 6b, or cold side of 7a, rubromarginata and aureosulcata are maturing to the same height. Both are around 25 feet tall after about 10 years. This means rubromarginata in order to size up to its ''timber size'' maximum height, rubromarginata needs a milder climate.

Rubromarginata is a ''plain green'' bamboo, I really recommend trying Phyllo. atrovaginata, it shoots early, with aureosulcata, it has a better chance at doing well in your area. It is a very clean looking "plain green" bamboo, and shoots taste good. Or try bissetii, another known for early shooting and a good zone 5b track record.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:32 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:48 pm
Posts: 84
Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
Pleioblastus viridistriatus - Matt, don't let it scare you, it is just a wimpy ground cover bamboo. I have it against my block foundation too. It has not come through the mortar yet, and its been there 35 years.

Now I do regularly have to cut off an aureosulcata culm from inside the basement of my foundation on the other side of the house. I have been tuck pointing - replacing mortar on the side where the aureosulcata is. The warning about bamboo breaking through cinder block foundations is from experience with my aureosulcata. It IS BIG ENOUGH, to really do damage.

But I would not worry about Pleioblastus viridistriatus. Any of the larger Pleioblastus, like P. simonii, you should worry about, but the dwarfs are not really a problem.

In the future, don't repeat the mistake.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:37 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:13 pm
Posts: 2831
Location: St. Louis area Location Details
Leo -- interesting. Atro shoots later than yellow groove for me.

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My blog: It's not work, it's gardening!


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